Welcome back to Hammer Drops, where we here at Back to the Past use our decades of experience and recent examples to guide you through the hazardous world of collectibles buying and selling. Today we’re turning our eyes to a somewhat sensitive topic: how real life events can change a collectible’s value.
Black Panther #5 from 2009 was the fifth issue of the Dark Reign era reboot of the title, which had been promising a new, female Black Panther since the first issue’s cover debuted. This issue actually followed through, with King T’Challa’s sister Shuri (introduced by writer Reginald Hudlin in 2005’s Black Panther #2 and something of his pet character) adopting her family’s traditional Panther Habit while her older brother was incapacitated.
Shuri’s tenure as Black Panther would be short-lived, with the relaunched series lasting a total of thirteen issues and followed by a four issue mini-series. T’Challa would recover and retake the role in 2011’s Black Panther: The Man Without Fear! #513 and holding it ever since. Shuri would fade into the background after Hudlin’s run ended before returning to prominence through the character’s inclusion in 2018’s Black Panther movie.
The Teachable Moment: Real Life Changes Value
Eight months ago, per my research, $25 was a solid price for a graded copy of Black Panther #5. Thanks to the movie, buyers cared about Shuri but the beginning of her short-lived stint at Black Panther wasn’t the key issue people were interested in. Ungraded could reliably net $10, though grading-worthy copies could go for more.
And then Chadwick Boseman, who played the role of King T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died on August 28, 2020. He lost a battle with Colon Cancer that he had kept secret from not only the public but most of his co-stars and other film industry contacts, with his death taking most everyone outside his family by surprise. That includes Marvel Studios, who had planned on him starring in a sequel to Black Panther.
Morbid as it may be, this is where collectibles speculation kicks in. Almost over night, Black Panther #5 became a $100+ book (with higher end graded copies netting as much as twice that) as rumors swirl that Letitia Wright, the on-screen Shuri, would be taking over as the face of the franchise in a way similar to what was attempted in the comics. Marvel’s only comment so far as to how Boseman’s passing changes Black Panther 2 is that the role of T’Challa will not be recast, lending even more fuel to the Shuri speculation..
Scott Lovejoy, owner of Back to the Past, points out that a generational version of this same phenomenon in reverse has already happened to us. At our founding back in 1990, Silver Age cowboy comics starring the likes of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers would reliably sell for $20-60. The kids who had grown up with these western heroes were financially stable adults with money to spend, and did so reclaiming their childhoods in comic book form. Now, those comics are considerably less reliably valuable and have in fact ended up in boxed lots where they once would have sold one-by-one. Their audience is largely out of the collection accumulation stage of life and is now predominantly liquidating their collections, either to de-clutter their homes, fund retirements, or after their passing.
The fact is that while most of what we sell is firmly from the world of pop culture and fiction, our buyers exist in the real world and its tides effect how they spend their money. Unforeseeable real life events, like the tragically young death of a movie star, can shift the values on related collectibles in a big way. Foreseeable life events, like the progress of generations, changes who those collectors are and what they are looking for. And that’s Back to the Past Collectibles is here to help you track those changes and find those audiences! Or, if you’d prefer to handle things yourself, keep reading Hammer Drops for more insights!